Horários do Funchal bus redesign

This set of three signs—one static, one dynamic, and one interactive—received 1st place in the EU Civitas 2020 design contest for Horários do Funchal. The contest sought designs that improved accessibly and usability of the bus system for both locals and tourists.

TEAM | James Budday, Carolina Gouveia, Mike Henderson

ROLE | experience designer + researcher

TOOLS | Sketch, InVision, Photoshop

METHODS | designing for accessibility, fly-on-the-wall observation, competitive analysis, task-based usability evaluation, user interviews, information hierarchy, experience prototyping

Tier 2 (LED Display) in context

Brief

This project was sponsored by a partnership between Horários do Funchal, the public bus system in Funchal, Portugal, and the EU Civitas 2020 Initiative, which aims to address tourism and mobility by designing site-appropriate solutions that encourage sustainable development.

The contest asked designers to submit designs for a new signage system for Horários do Funchal that would encourage both tourists and locals to choose the bus system when making transportation decisions. These designs should incorporate real-time data, improve accessibility, and make the system easier to use for both local and tourists, all while keeping the feasibility of implementation in mind. 

 

solution

We designed a 3-tier system of signage for the Horários do Funchal bus system. 

Tier 1, Interactive Display: Allows for route planning and exploration of destinations and events; advertises the bus system’s capabilities.

Tier 2, LED Display: A medium-low cost way to bring usable real-time data to users, added accessibility for the vision-impaired.

Tier 3, Static Map: A low-cost way to increase usability; adds maps and schedules, unique stop names.

 

Tier 1 (Interactive Display) in context

 
 
 

Schematic for Tier 2 (LED Display) and Tier 3 (Static Map)

 
 

Task-based usability evaluation

We began this project by trying to understand what a tourist would experience in using the bus for the first time. Because many visitors to Madeira do not speak Portuguese, we hypothesized that it might be difficult for a visitor to figure out how to use the bus system. Because I hadn't taken the bus before, I performed this task, first picking a prominent tourist destination that would be difficult to walk to (the Monte gardens), and then attempting to get there by bus. 

The findings from this exercise gave the team a deeper understanding the current map's content and symbology, allowing us to create the streamlined version found in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 stops. 

task-based analysis notes.png
 

user interviews

To better understand how locals used the bus, we interviewed 12 local bus users about how they navigated the bus system.

  • Locals typically learned about the bus from their family/friends
  • Most used Horarios do Funchal’s Website
  • Some use Google Maps
  • Many local users don’t use and frequently don’t understand the bus stop map
  • The mobile app is rarely used

 

 

competitive analysis and best practices for accessibility 

Because accessibility can't be easily studied using lightweight user research methods, we opted to conduct secondary research into the best practices for accessibility in public transportation. Our main takeaway was that audio announcements could be added to bus stops to improve accessibility for the blind. 

 

We also performed a competitive analysis of the designs of bus systems from major cities around the world. We found that the most successful designs, like the signs in Paris (right), used an unusually high level of information hierarchy to encourage users to focus on the right information for where they are relative to the sign. They also include simplified maps of the routes that the bus stop services. 

 

experience prototyping

Our final step in developing our concepts was to test physical prototypes of the Tier 2 and Tier 3 signs with local bus users.

We fabricated prototypes and installed them at medium-traffic bus stop, where we then invited bus users to try out our new signs and maps, Their feedback drove the final revisions in our design, which we incorporated prior to presenting to the leadership of Horários do Funchal.

 

 

 

installing sign.png
 

final solution

Tier 1, Interactive Display: Allows for route planning and exploration of destinations and events; advertises the bus system’s capabilities.

Tier 2, LED Display: A medium-low cost way to bring usable real-time data to users, added accessibility for the vision-impaired.

Tier 3, Static Map: A low-cost way to increase usability; adds maps and schedules, unique stop names.